Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category

Backscatter Scanners and Pacemakers

November 16, 2010

As you may remember, I almost flew to Atlanta for the recent Heart Walk, but changed my mind when my parents decided to attend, too. While getting my gear organized for the trip I thought about the new “Backscatter” full body X-ray scanners being installed in airports: how do those things interact with pacemakers? The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recommends that those of us with Pacer Power avoid the metal detectors, and since I got my pacer I’m not cool around large magnets. After all, the doctors use a magnet to set my pacemaker; it stands to reason that another magnet could scramble it! So I pull out my plastic card and tell the TSA agents that I have a pacemaker and request a hand patdown, and just avoid all that.

But what about the new scanners? Friend or foe? Not knowing, I called my pacer lab. The short answer: We don’t know.

The longer answer: There hasn’t been any testing done on pacemakers yet. It’s not really safe to get a human volunteer to test the scanner (“We don’t think anything well happen, Fred, but just in case… sign this release form.”) so the next best plan is a series of tests, usually involving calibrating a pacemaker, taping it to a mannequin, and sending him through a scanner – simulating what would happen to a traveler who happens to have a pacemaker.

If the pacer checks out, you run the test again, and again, and again, to see if going through the scanner multiple times will affect the pacer. Then you run the test yet again – with longer scans and higher radiation levels, to see if that affects the pacemaker. And you keep repeating these tests to eliminate the possibility of a fluke reading.

Wow, that’s pretty involved. It would probably be better if we could borrow a scanner for a few weeks, but I doubt that is going to happen. TSA like to keep things close to the vest, and I bet that goes double for their newest secuity tool. So I figure that the best thing to do if you have a pacemaker is not to risk it – just keep asking for a hand search.

Thankfully, my home airport is so small that they only have three gates. It will be quite a while before they get a Backscatter scanner!

He earned it!

September 14, 2010

A mechanic is making small talk with a customer as he adds up the bill, and discovers that the customer is a heart surgeon.

“Doc, I just don’t get it,” the mechanic says. “I can take out a piston and grind it down to fit better. I clean dirty valves, I fill the engine with oil, and I can work on the electrical system. You bring me an engine that won’t run correctly and I can fix that thing so that it runs perfectly. We do the same job, but you make four times the money I do! I can’t understand that.”

“Well,” the heart surgeon said. “I normally do my work with the engine running.”

Paying for your surgery with words!

April 13, 2010

Malkolm Poyer is a third grader who needed heart surgery. Born with a heart defect (“…a condition that forced his heart to work much harder than normal to pump blood,” are the only details given by the Atlanta Journal – Constitution) Malkoln needed surgery at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to implant a defibrillator.

Malkolm soon announced his own plan to pay for the surgery: He would write an original short story and sell copies on eBay! He’ll even autograph each copy sold! And as his mom writes in the eBay ad, “He is practicing on his own how to write cursive, so his name might even be written in swirly letters!”

Now that is too cool! When the AJC checked on March 24, he had sold 326 copies. But as of 9:00 AM April 13, it’s up to over 1200. And at $10 dollars per copy, it’s still inexpensive. If Malkolm turns out to be the next Great American Writer, watch out! It could be worth some serious money in the future!

And what’s $10 to help a kid out? (Shipping is free, by the way!)

Here’s Malkolm’s eBay ad

(Special thanks to a fellow heart warrior for bringing this to my attention)

Look! Up in the Sky!

April 12, 2010

Remember Zeb? He had Heart Surgery on March 2, 2010.

I am happy to report that after a short break, Superman is back on the job!

Super Zeb!

Click above to see a better photo of the Man of Steel!

Heart of Steel

March 17, 2010

My brother used to be a Manager for a major movie theater company, so I have a few movie posters. A lot of movie posters are produced; the average movie generates several different versions. There’s one for a movie that is coming soon, one for when the movie is actually in the theater, and sometimes there’s even a new poster produced for the last few weeks of the run, especially when the box office receipts are close to breaking a record. And then there is the “teaser” poster.

The teaser poster is the first poster to be hung – the movie may be 6 months from its opening, it’s not even COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU yet. I have a teaser poster that has… nothing. Just a blue sky and white clouds. And at the bottom of the poster is one line:

On June 18th, you will believe that a man can fly.

You may have guessed by now – this is the teaser poster for Superman: The Movie. Superman featured new technology that made the flying harness disappear: The camera was filtered to not pick up a certain color, and of course, the harness and wires were all that color. It’s old hat now, but in 1978 it was a new special effect and when Christopher Reeve tore open his shirt and then leaped into the sky, audiences gasped.

So what’s this got to do with the heart? Friend and fellow Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA) member Jason was at a Comic Convention and saw this shirt:

Kryptonian at Heart T-Shirt

If you can’t tell, Superman’s S shield is where the heart should be. Jason went crazy for this shirt, explaining to the people in charge of the table just what a shirt like this would mean to someone fighting a Congenital Heart Defect. They literally began to cry and gave Jason the shirt.

I’ve got a bad case of STEVE WANT, and I’m going to get one. If you want one too, click on the T-shirt, then click on the DC Comics link in the lower left corner. Once the DC Comics shirts page comes up, page down to the Kryptonian at Heart T-Shirt link. Click it! (It’s very close to the bottom of the list) Or better yet, call them at 1-800-699-0115 and order one… and tell them that it is for a real superhero!

Because isn’t your favorite Cardiac Kid or Heart Warrior just as strong as the Man of Steel?

Top Ten Reasons to date a CHD Survivor!

May 3, 2009

In the spirit of a David Letterman Top Ten List, Adventures of a Funky Heart! presents:

The Top Ten Reasons to Date a Congenital Heart Defect Survivor!

#10 – Admit it… scars are hot!

#9 – Our childhood wasn’t “normal” – so it’s alright if yours wasn’t either.

#8 – Listening to a CHDer’s funky heart beat & us listening to your strangely normal one encourages cuddling.

#7 – You have a built in excuse to check out our smokin’ hot torsos.

#6 – We know from experience that vulnerability is nothing to be ashamed of and can even be a strength.

#5 – Accompanying us to our cardiology appointments can offer fabulous opportunities for travel and site-seeing!

#4 – CHDers need to trust you enough to know that you won’t let them down. If you’re dating a CHDer, you’ve been judged and found worthy.

#3 – Sternotomy scars accentuate cleavage.

#2 – We understand how precious life is and we’re not going to waste it!

#1 – CHDers know EXACTLY how to make your heart race… !

My friends in the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA)  and I put this list together a few months ago. It makes me smile every time I read it.